Child sexual abuse has become like a cancer eating into the very fabric of society because it is happening everywhere in schools, homes and communities.
The violation of the rights of children comes in many forms; violence, child labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, child marriage amongst others.
As the world evolves, protecting children has never been so important with increasing reports of sexual assault on minors.
The far-reaching physical, social, and mental health effects on victims of Child sexual abuse, call for more action in tackling this social problem.
And for victims of child sexual abuse, life is permanently bruised. majority of the victims suffer in silence rather than face the shame and stigma associated with the experience in this part of the world as such many cases go unreported.
According to a report on Violence Against Children in Nigeria by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), one in four girls and one in ten boys suffer from sexual violence.
However, only 3% – 5% of those cases are reported.
More disturbing is the fact that perpetrators of this crime, in most cases, are known to the child.
In Lagos state, no fewer than 279 children were sexually abused in 2018, according to a report released by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT).
The report showed an increase of 134 per cent in documented cases in 2018 compared with 2017.
The consciousness of many Nigerians was woken when heart wrenching stories of child defilement went viral. One of them is of a two year old girl, who was sexually assaulted by a supervising teacher in one of the popular and privately –run schools in Lagos State.
Last year, the #justiceforochanya became popular with widespread protests across the country when circumstances that led to the untimely death of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje went viral. She allegedly suffered from repeated sexual assaults from father and son in Makurdi, Benue State.
The latest case is Victoria Ahmed and her husband who are seeking justice for their daughter Hannah, asking that the perpetrator be brought to book. Five year old Hannah was allegedly assaulted by her landlord’s son.
Nigeria may continue to experience drawback in securing conviction for sexual assault cases until the culture of silence, stigmatization and ignorance is corrected.